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Mailbox Monday

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When it comes to outer envelopes, there are (at least) three schools of thought.

Some campaigns take a stealth approach — they don't reveal who the mail is from, what the mail's about, or why it might matter to you. These campaigns count on human curiosity. It's kind of like the gameshow "Let's Make A Deal." Even when a contestant has already won something, it's very hard not to go for what's hidden behind curtain #2.

Other campaigns use teasers to ... well ... tease. They hint at what's inside, maybe mention an important benefit, or cleverly tie-in to a creative concept. At B Direct, we often take this approach because (a) we've found it works and (b) it's wicked fun.

The third approach is what we might call "the kitchen sink" approach. In other words, the marketers throw everything they've got at the recipient; the outer envelope includes everything except said sink.

A package we just received from Progressive Insurance is a good example of this. The 6"x9" double-window envelope includes:
• the company's logo and Maryland return address
• an indicia
• the name and address of the prospect (on the enclosed letter, appearing through window one)
• a personalized average savings card (appearing in window two and fugitive glued to the letter)
• a Massachusetts-targeted teaser that looks as if it was printed as an after-thought with a lighthouse and the message "Enjoy Big Savings In The Bay State"
• a toll-free number
• a URL

But, wait. There's more.

The back of the envelope adds:
• Progressive's logo (again)
• a teaser that reads "Switching to Progressive can save you hundreds with discounts like SafeDriver, Paperless, and more!
• illustrated icons of a key, a leaf, and a heart and shield with the letter "P"
• a call-to-action for a free quote with the toll-free number (again) and URL (again)

Phew! That is one hard-working (and exhausting) envelope.

Inside the package, the letter features a full-color silhouette of the company's humorous television spokeswoman "Flo." The letter is persuasive and easy to read with nice scannable bullets. There's a datamatrix code next to Flo's head, which might confuse the prospect. But, otherwise, it's relatively clean.

There are two other inserts in the package. One features Flo again and suggests that you "Box up some great savings when you bundle home and auto!" The other depicts (stock) photos of a camper, a boat, and a motorcycle and encourages you to "Explore with protection for any adventure." Flo doesn't appear on either side of this piece (and after engaging with her throughout, we kind of miss her).

So what's the bottom line? The package works very, very hard, from cluttered but informative outer envelope, to well-organized letter, to upsell and cross-sell inserts (with and without Flo). It looks a little "junky," which is something we try to avoid but also something that, historically, has often worked well.

We'd like to see more Flo and less stock photography and cheesy clip art (the ubiquitous lighthouse). Maybe the letter — or, if not, a lift letter — could have been from Flo, herself. Progressive has invested in a memorable spokesperson and if they're going to use her in their direct mail, they should commit to her fully. Finally, we would suggest a slightly more elegant design all around.

That said, we still give the package a thumbs up. It definitely gets the job done.

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